It is difficult to achieve perfection, the process of being an active member of society, to move to the social-economical education of young generation without primary education which makes a basic grade of educational system. Zoroastrians also paid a great attention to the primary education.
After the acceptance of Zoroastrian religion, based on believe only in God, in Movaraunnahr, Iran and Khorasan, the special temples — otashkadas with shrines began to be built for praying to Akhura Mazda. Otashkadas were usually built in wide areas in the suburbs of the city. They consisted of ten hudjra (rooms), tolor (hall), reading rooms, libraries, and rooms for singing. In the reading halls pupils were taught to reading the part of ―Avesta named ―Visparad with special rhythm and devices, in the rooms for singing they were taught to collective singing (chorus) ―Gokh.Professor Isa Djabbarov wrote that the temples found during the archeological searches under the leading of S. P. Tolstov in the ruins of Tuprakkala and Janbas-kala in Khorezm consisted of several buildings, and the was a quadrangle building surrounded by several fences, circling path inside in the middle of those buildings. It was found that there was a double-stored building near the temple, a beautiful triangle building which had more than hundred rooms. Each room was decorated with special ornaments. 140 documents dedicated to administrative economical affairs, written in leather and wood; 138 big and little statues; description of people, birds and animals; decorating pictures of women playing triangle musical instrument and their hands holding the special state of musical instrument (notes) express us that there were different objects.
Otashkadas were of special place in common, spiritual, educating life of society. Together with educational buildings they had treating centers also, like ―sihatgoh (hospitals), ―darmongoh (clinics); drugstores, city ―dodgustar (judge), vakf -leader‘s and chairman‘s rooms also. Dijnabishts — special chancellors where were different documents and religious books, were also in otashkadas. Some examples were recopied as a book, Zoroastra odes were kept, and kitobdors (librarians), tens of Avesta-researchers, wisers and tellers had their activities there. Test-rituals as ―Sidrapushi and ―Kamarbastan were spent in otashkadas. Mobiling a young men to soldiers, building of canals, organizing hashars, different holidays and rests were also connected with the activity of otashkadas. Saying in short, otashkadas were temples of Zoroastrian religion with the line of activities as praying, calling people to believe in God, spending a variety of religious ceremonies, telling people laws of religion; they also served as a source of science, common thinking and spirituality. They were also the place of solving different economical, educational problems.
Otashkadas were built of raw and burned breaks on the hills in order to defend from different natural disasters. Otashkadas were built in ancient towns as Urgench, Termez, Balkh, Bomiyan, Merv, Mekhan (Turkmenistan); Khuttaliyan (Tadjikistan); Tabrez, Yazd, Seistan, Isfakhan (Iran). Otashkadas in Koma (India) and Isfakhan (Iran) are kept considerably better. The walls of tens hudjras built in ten meter height in Isfakhan during the Sassanids’ reign are still kept. In nowadays one of the beautiful and big otashkadas in Yazd has its activity. Academician A. Askarov during the archeological searches in the ruins of Yarkutan in Surkhandarya found remains of big otashkada which consisted of tolor and hundreds of hudjra.
In educational places as medrese and at the schools in otashkada consisting of main section of Zoroastrian educational system together with the educational process‘ books there were kept and used books devoted to social knowledge, copies of ―Avesta‖, handwritings of books containing social and spiritual meaning.
The main sources serving for primary education were books:
- Nikadum Nask consists of 54 parts. It was about justice, truth, rights of people, methods of reign.
- Kitradad — the history of humankind, the history of world shahinshah (kings) dynasty.
- Khusporam — the book about the rights of landowners and stock-breeders.
- Vendidod — the book about the regimen of tahorat — cleaning, ritual washing (before praying), funerals, drugs and doctor‘s duty.
- Kodukhn nask — the book about the life after the death, about the life in heaven and hell.
- Spend — the book about the life and activity of Zoroastra.
Later these books were enriched with different information and proofs, they were also systemized, translated into pekhlevi, and in many copies were spread along the territory. In ―Avesta in different grades of educational system the advantages reading books are said that ―a heartily reading person gives clearness and perfectness to reading. Nowadays it is noticeable among young generation that tendency of reading scientific-popular and literary books is much more low. It has, undoubtedly, negative influence on formation of their world outlook, their development. That‘s why it is necessary to spend a propaganda process of the use of books in the process of teaching and upbringing, in the formation of thoughts, advice of our predecessors, that‘s to say Zoroastrians love to books to widely developed young generation.
Analysis of Zoroastrian handwritings kept up to our days written in pekhlevi such as ―Dadeston-i menog-i khrad, ―Bundakhishn, ―Oyatkor Zareran, ―Zatsporam, ―Kornomai Ardasheri Bobakon, ―Bakhman Yasht, ―Rivoyat, ―Rost sukhan, ―Shoyist-noshoyist, ―Chim-i-dron, ―Andarz-i danag mard, ―Khveshkarix-i redagon let to learn their ideas about education and upbringing, advice of teacher to his pupil, wise man to young generation; to get a complete information about the system and process of education, about the rules kept in observe during the process of upbringing and teaching, duties of teachers, supervisors and pupils.
In the handwriting of ―Andarz-i danag mard‖ sage talked to his son, gave him advice, taught him and said: ―My son! Be innocent in order not to feel fear. Be gentle in order to be worthy. Be smart in order to be wealthy. Be thankful in order to have many friends… According instructions and duties, be obedient to relatives and friends, and also don‘t argue with your supervisor… Be as kind and gentle to your wife and children as possible, exactly talk to them, teach and admit them. As we see, the head of the family had, first of all, to give advice (family teaching), and then teach (school education) his children. It was underlined that son‘s duties were: to find good and clever friends, not to steal, be always true, and could answer for his words and actions.
Zoroastrian primary education consisted of the main section of educational system, and included the age from 7 up to 15. Up to 7 years children were not taught systematically, they just were acquainted with exact canons of Zoroastrism.
It was considered that in this age children were away of different sins and the influence of Akhriman. The child reached seven years was dressed into a special cloth with the saint symbols. Considering that seven-year-old child can differ good and bad (kind and evil), he was given some responsibilities.
The following words can be the example of a special attention paid to child upbringing in Zoroastrian religion: ― O, Mazda! Give your unlimited love to those who bring up a child! Where are your advice, instructions, kindness and enlightening? ―Upbringing should be considered main support of life. Every young man should be taught such that learning good manners, reading, and then writing he should get the highest grade.
The final grade of primary education for Zoroastrian people in the educational places like medrese owned the following seven types of art:
- Bow shooting.
- Riding on a horse.
- Religious canons.
- Kiroat (reading with a special intonation) and singing.
Writing and counting were the lowest section in education. As a higher section of primary education was accepted oratory and ―sweet saying (politeness). Voizs (orators) occupied a higher place in the society than secretaries and calligraphs. People, who could perfectly write and count, were craftsmen, but orators were in the level of priests and leaders of the religion.
Zoroastrians planned physical and labor training, physical and labor upbringing, their main aim was military-patriotic training and training of young generation to labor.
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- Srinivasan, T.N. and Jagdish Bhagwati (1999). “Outward-Orientation and Development”.